Argentina finished off their 2022 World Cup preparations in fine fashion on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, defeating United Arab Emirates (UAE) 5-0 in a friendly match. The two-time world winners took the lead early on thanks to a goal from Julian Alvarez and two goals from Angel Di Maria before Lionel Messi added a fourth just before halftime.
Midway through the second half, Joaquin Correa came off the bench to score Argentina’s fifth goal, giving Lionel Scaloni’s team a comfortable victory. Argentina has now extended their extraordinary unbeaten streak on the international stage to 36 games across all competitions, and they will now travel to Qatar on a genuine high.
At the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Scaloni started his team with a powerful lineup, and after just 16 minutes, Messi escaped the offside trap and set up Manchester City forward Alvarez for a close-range tap-in.
Argentina 5-0 UAE: World Cup warm-up begins
Eight minutes later, Marcos Acuna’s floated cross into the penalty area found Angel Di Maria, who deftly volleyed a lovely left-footed shot into the bottom corner to double Argentina’s advantage.
After tricking two UAE defenders into the box, Di Maria rounded goalie Khalid Eisa and tapped the ball into an empty net to give La Albiceleste a three-goal lead.
After transferring the ball to his weaker right root and blasting across the goal face into the top-left corner, Messi rounded off a strong first half performance.
At halftime, Scaloni made four substitutions: Correa, Nahuel Molina, Gonzalo Montiel, and German Pezzalla all replaced Di Maria, Acuna, Alexis Mac Allister, and Nicolas Otamendi.
UAE made adjustments before goal-scorer Alvarez was replaced six minutes into the second half by Enzo Fernandez, who was making just his third international appearance.
After coming off the bench, Correa did have an immediate impression. He scored Argentina’s fifth goal on the hour mark with a deflected shot into the far corner after Rodrigo De Paul expertly put the Inter Milan player through on goal.
Argentina’s domination proved to be too much for UAE in a game in which Messi, De Paul, Lisandro Martinez, Juan Foyth, and Emiliano Martinez all played the full 90 minutes, and the 2021 Copa America champions triumphed in convincing fashion.
Argentina now has six days to get ready for its World Cup opening in Group C against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. Later this month, Argentina will play Mexico and Poland in group stage games of the World Cup.
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